Note: We received a free stay at El Patio 77. All opinions expressed are our own. 

An artist’s haven. A businessman’s respite. A backpackers’ luxury splurge. Whatever your reason for being in Mexico City, El Patio 77 offers an urban oasis to lay your head, enjoy the company of fellow travelers, and bask in the exquisite details of the renovated 1890 mansion-turned-eco-hotel. The whole house fills you with a sense of belonging, from the lush courtyard entrance, to the softly lit living room, to the homey and colorful Mexican kitchen, to the reconstructed wooden staircase—like your story is written into the walls, waiting to be whispered along with the stories of all the travelers who have stayed before you, and all those who will visit after.

The stories you will hear from those walls in the quiet of dawn and dusk are varied and fascinating. Once a family home, the building has since been a school for girls, and now a hotel. The bones of the building are original, but the place was renovated in 2009 to enhance the building’s eco-friendly sustainability. This commitment to sustainability can be seen anywhere you look in the property. Filled with refurbished or repurposed furniture, installed with an ingenious water capture, treatment and heating system, and fitted with energy-efficient lighting, the fixtures of the place are certainly eco-friendly.

But so too are the daily practices: buying locally sourced fresh food daily from the market, enabling guest use of a filtered water spout rather than bottled water, and providing bicycles to guests to explore the neighborhood are just a few examples of the practices that help Patio 77 live up to its claim to eco-friendliness. Needless to say, the place is kept impeccable and organized.

El Patio 77 is also a refreshing reminder that revitalizing older pieces does not mean sacrificing style. The place is replete with an authentic charm that never feels stuck in the past. The accommodations feature the same warmth and attention to detail that is evident in the rest of the property. Each of the eight guest rooms has a unique and elegant feel, with influences of the Mexican state for which it is named. The beds, dressers, and other pieces of furniture are stately and tend to be made of elegant woods. Every element, from rugs to wall decorations to mirrors, is a unique handicraft.

All of the artwork and crafts are procured through fair trade with artisans representing the region. Together with the house itself, which features incredible detailing in door frames, cornices, floors, etc., it all adds up a dream space and experience for those interested in design, decoration, art and architecture. In further support of artists far and near, Patio 77 hosts rotating art exhibits showcasing the work of local artists.

Art and creation flow not only from the walls of Patio 77, but also from the people. Manager Elvia Chaparro proudly showed us a beautiful sample of photographs from photo shoots carried out in cooperation with guests. She beamed as she explained to us the importance of relating to guests, and welcoming them into the serene, charming experience that only Patio 77 can provide. And what better way to do this than create art together?

Even those who are not art savvy will appreciate the sense of history meeting the present that this atmosphere provides, though. Beyond an artist’s haven, the mansion-turned-hotel provides an excellent stomping grounds for business travelers who want a more authentic experience and a healthy breakfast; for backpackers who want a night away from a hostel with a comfortable bed and kind people to chat with; for families who want a quiet neighborhood and a one-of-a-kind cultural experience.

El Patio 77 is located in the San Rafael neighborhood, which was the first neighborhood to develop outside of the city center in the 19th century. Once inhabited by wealthy families, whose homes were designed by the top architects of the day, including Luis Barragán, the neighborhood slowly transitioned into a settlement for the middle class, which it remains to this day. While many of the beautiful old buildings in the neighborhood have fallen into disrepair, the last decade has marked a renewed community interest in salvaging the beautiful buildings. El Patio 77 is perfect evidence of this resurgence: an establishment that pays homage to the history of the home while bringing the building into usage that respects its modern surroundings through eco-friendly practices, and participation in the artistic culture that has encapsulated the neighborhood.

San Rafael is currently overlooked as a destination for many tourists visiting Mexico City. These tend to flock to the better known, somewhat wealthier, and more established cultural and commercial corridors of Colonia Roma or Colonia Condesa. Yet San Rafael has its own architectural sophistication and less flashy cultural offerings, including a strong theatre scene and solid restaurants that cater mainly to locals. It is a relatively short walk to very important cultural and historic landmarks in Mexico City, such as Avenida Reforma, the Monument to the Mexican Revolution, the Plaza of the Three Cultures, and the Zócalo. It is also not far from Roma. But perhaps what is most unique about the city is that, given its remove from the tourist circuit, it retains its charm as a placid, leafy, middle class neighborhood, where one can get a good sense of the Chilango lifestyle.

This is what is most impressive about Patio 77: the way it has managed to recapture the feel of an old Mexican mansion while integrating itself into the community, and doing so in style and luxury. Patio 77 feels like just another home in the neighborhood, and in many ways that is what they are aiming to be. Thanks to the hospitality and warmth of Elvia and Sergio, two of the main caretakers of the property, guests are able to experience a more intimate version of Mexico City, while at the same time basking in beautiful spaces, and in a silent and peaceful luxury that soothes mind and spirit.

This post was written by Laura Vlieg and Juan Pablo Melo, the traveling couple behind www.CoupleTakes.com. All photographs by Laura Vlieg.